I admit, I do buy and spend a lot in November/December, much more than I should. My criteria for purchasing gifts are simple:
Must be something the recipient will like! Most important!
Ideally, the purchase supports a local business or fundraiser.
In addition, the gift uses a minimum of “stuff” – raw materials, packaging, other resources.
So how did I do this year? Just OK.
Books for husband – purchased from independent bookseller. Good.
Clothes for kids – purchased online from large companies – not good. But this is what they really wanted.
Mother-in-law – grocery store gift card. Good. Just a plastic card representing purchasing power.
Father –in-law – subscription to Economist plus handcrafted items. The handcrafted items support local artisans; the subscription does use paper but can be recycled.
Nieces and nephews – toys and books, purchased from local store. Good on one count (local) but they are “stuff.” Hard to avoid with young nieces and nephews who live out of state.
Brother- in- law – headphones. Not good at all.
Sister- in- law – handmade bag. Good, purchase supports local artisan and was purchased at a fundraiser.
Sister and her daughters – handmade jewelry. Good.
Teachers – wineglasses and wine – glasses at fundraiser. Good.
Co-workers – chocolates from national chain. Not good.
Friend one – CD from fundraiser – musicians were there performing – good support of local artists and fundraiser.
Friend two – handmade jewelry. See above.
Friend three – cosmetics and bag purchased from nation chain – not good.
By my count, that’s nine in the good category, four in the not good category. So how could I have improved? The clothes for the boys came from specific requests for brand, style, etc. Other than ignoring the request, there’s not much I could do here.
Toys and books – these were crafts and a combo of wooden and plastic toys – in the past I’ve purchased toys from Ten Thousand Villages for the young boy but the girls like crafts. Unless I put together my own craft kits (and I have neither the time nor the talent) I think I’m stuck here as well.
Headphones. I tried these at a store and was impressed, as they could be used with a mobile phone or any music source and they sounded great. I think he’ll really like them, and they weren’t cheap. Usually I buy him steaks and other food items from a Midwestern family-owned company but it can’t be considered local. So he gets “stuff” this year because he’s had a tough year and deserves a treat.
Chocolates – There is a local chocolatier; I will consider buying from him next year. You just don’t get as much bang for your buck – it’s more of a WOW of a couple of bites instead of several days of enjoyment.
So that leaves the cosmetics and bag – I will not do that again. I had thought that the store used all natural ingredients in their products but turns out their claim to fame is no testing on animals. I could have made a much better purchase from local sources of all-natural soaps and lotions and put in a bag that was made locally.
On the other hand, I plan to send most of my cards electronically this year. We’ll see how that goes over! And most of the gifts go into re-usable gift bags to avoid dumping extra paper and ribbons into the landfills.
I know I can do better in the future – how about you?